If your otherwise healthy, active dog suddenly develops a limp it could be from a variety of causes, from the obvious prickle in the foot, to something much more serious and sinister. 

It could be something you can fix immediately, or something your vet should take a look at, but whatever is causing your dog to limp should not be ignored. 

Assess the Situation 

As soon as you notice your dog limping, stop and take a look to see if there’s an obvious cause. 

Check your dog’s foot and leg for signs of foreign objects, bleeding, swelling and pain. Does your dog seem otherwise well and happy? 

Is the limping constant? Can the dog put any weight at all on that leg? Is the dog limping or dragging his leg? 

Keep in mind that a dog in pain can be unpredictable and might bite if you poke and prod at an already extremely painful injury. 

Is it an Emergency? 

Most cases of limping won’t be an emergency and you can make an appointment to see your vet once you’ve made an assessment and deemed it necessary. 

Signs that your dog may need a 24 hour emergency vet include excessive pain, profuse bleeding, an obvious fracture, an inability to get up, lethargy, vomiting, shaking, fever, or dragging of the leg indicating paralysis. 

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms take him to a vet immediately. 

Causes of Limping or Lameness 

There are many causes of limping in dogs, but it can be attributed to either an injury or an illness, and is almost always a sign your dog is in pain and needs your help. 

Some reasons for limping include: 

  • Cuts, sprains, torn nails, and foreign objects in the paw 
  • Arthritis and joint problems 
  • Bone fracture or dislocation of a joint 
  • A bite from an insect or animal 
  • Torn ligaments 
  • Hip or elbow dysplasia 
  • Cruciate injury 
  • Patella luxation 
  • Slipped or herniated disc 


See Your Vet 

If the cause of your dog’s limping can’t immediately be corrected by you, then make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. 

You can make your vet’s diagnosis easier by providing all the information you have about where and when the limping started, how long it’s been going on, and whether it’s constant or only happens under certain conditions such as running and jumping. 

Your vet will take into consideration such things as the age and weight of your dog, as well as any previous history of leg, foot or joint problems, and carefully examine your dog to find the cause of the limp. 

Sydney Animal Hospital and Specialist Vet 

Sydney Vet Specialists is dedicated to providing quality 24 hour veterinary care for your pets, as well as specialist services for a wide range of conditions. 

To speak to one of caring, professional team members about any concerns you have with your dog limping, call us on 02 9197 5800, or contact us online 

Book an appointment for your pet between Monday and Friday 8:30am-6pm or call us for emergency veterinarian services and after hours care.